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The Case for Thanksgiving

November 20, 2014

Thank you to all that read, shared, and/or commented on last week’s entry.  This week I will confront a topic much more divisive.  As you can see by the title, I believe Thanksgiving to be the best holiday of the year.  Let’s take a look at the contenders.  They will be ranked by my completely made up system, which takes into account 3 factors:

  1. Intent
  2. Actual practice
  3. Effect on musicians

So without further ado (has anyone ever complained about previous ado?), here are the contenders:

New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day- December 31/January 1

  1. Celebrate the end/beginning of the year.  A great idea for a party. (9)
  2. A drunken mass of humanity trying way too hard to have the Best. Party. Ever. followed by a day of recovery spent passed out in front of the TV.  (2)
  3. Although New Year’s Eve used to be a big payday, working while everyone else is partying can be a drag.  (5)

Total- 16 points

Valentine’s Day- February 14

  1. Spend time with your significant other and show them how much they mean to you. A lovely way to spend a day. (7)
  2. If you’re in a relationship, knowing exactly what to do (are flowers enough?…dinner…jewelry?) can be stressful.  If you’re single, it can be a reminder that you’ll never meet anyone ever again and die alone in a cramped studio apartment surrounded by your 12 cats. (1)
  3. If Valentine’s Day happens on a weekend, and you take a gig, that can be construed as abandoning your loved one on the most romantic day of the year. (1)

Total- 9 points

St. Patrick’s Day- March 17

  1. Celebrate Irish heritage and remember one of Ireland’s patron saints. Well, if your family comes from Ireland this could be big, but if not…(4)
  2. Large groups of people dressed in green drinking way too much. (1)
  3. Again, if St. Patrick’s Day falls on a weekend, there might be some work, but this is not a big deal.  (8)

Total- 13 points

Easter- Spring

  1. A Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  For non-Christians, a Sunday in Spring signifying the end of the Cadbury Creme Egg season.  Religious holidays are tough to score, as they hold wildly different places for the religious and non-religious. (6)
  2. For Christians: going to church, family dinner (traditionally ham or lamb, but can vary), children searching for hidden eggs (that could be hard-boiled and/or plastic filled with treats).  For non-Christians, hoarding the last remaining Cadbury Creme Eggs. (9)
  3. This is a busy holiday for musicians, especially trumpet players.  This means getting up very early on a Sunday morning.  It also means playing the Hallelujah Chorus, which involves trying to match pitch with the church choir sopranos. (3)

Total- 18 points

Memorial Day- May

  1. An American holiday to remember those that died in service to the United States of America. Although a wonderful idea, not exactly something you would normally plan a party around. (5)
  2. A 3-day weekend that unofficially starts summer that includes BBQ and hanging out with friends. (9)
  3. This is not a typical workday for musicians, although trumpet players may be asked to play Taps at Memorial Services. (9)

Total- 23 points

Independence Day- July 4

  1. An American holiday celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. A birthday party for an entire country?  Now that’s a great idea for a party. (10)
  2. A day of parades, picnics, and fireworks.  These all seem like good ideas until you’re actually there.  Parades, as a participant, mean marching/walking a long way in the heat.  If you’re watching, it means standing in one place watching people march/walk past you in the heat.  Picnics in July?!  Why would anyone choose to eat outside in the middle of summer?  This is why we invented air conditioning.  And fireworks?  If you’re setting them off yourself, you’re tempting fate and hopefully have the nearest Emergency Room already pulled up on Google Maps.  If you’re watching a professional show, you’re likely in a large crowd that will all be trying to get out the one-lane exit as soon as it’s over.  (1)
  3. Fourth of July concerts are usually outside, which can be miserable.  The musician is likely trying to get home at the same time as the audience from Point 2. (1)

Total- 12 points

Labor Day- September

  1. A day to honor labor associations and the workers. Again, it is important to remember and value what the workers and labor organizations have done for this country, but it’s not the most festive backdrop for a celebration. (5)
  2. A 3-day weekend that signifies the unofficial end of summer.  Much like Memorial Day and Independence Day, there are parades, picnics, and grilling.  As you know how I feel about the first two, let’s examine the idea of cooking outside in the summer.  This is generally thought of as a great idea.  Why?  I have no idea.  The last thing I want to do in the heat of summer is stand outside next to a fire.  (7)
  3. Aside from an occasional parade, there aren’t really a lot of Labor Day gigs. (7)

Total- 19 points

Halloween- October 31

  1. Staying modern (no, I’m not going back to the Celtic holiday of Samhain), Halloween is about dressing up in costume.  For children it also includes going door-to-door and getting candy.  A giant costume party and candy?  That’s a party. (9)
  2. Costumes and candy.  The big problems with Halloween are when it falls on a weeknight and/or the weather is bad.  No kid should learn walking door-to-door and opening a coat is a way to get candy.  (7)
  3. Much like St. Patrick’s Day, there might be some work if Halloween falls on a weekend, but it’s not really a holiday that employs musicians. (8)

Total- 24 points

Thanksgiving- November

  1. To give thanks for the previous year’s harvest (no, we’re not getting into the history of what happened to the Native Americans starting in the 1600’s…we’re talking intent).  A day off to say thanks for the food growing is a terrific idea. (10)
  2. Stay home, hang out with friends and family, and eat.  This is all I want to do most of the time.  Making a holiday out of it is genius. (10)
  3. This is almost always a day off for musicians (unless you’re in the Macy’s Day parade).  (9)

Total-29 points

Christmas- December 25

  1. For the Christians- celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  For the non-Christians it is a season of shopping, seasonal music, and gift giving.  Again, scoring the religious holidays can be difficult, but a birthday is always a good idea for a party. (9)
  2. For the Christians- going to church, family dinner, usually gift giving.  For the non-Christians-a shopping season that has extended backwards into Thanksgiving Day (with Christmas decorations being sold earlier and earlier each year). Plenty has already been written on the commercialization of Christmas.  No other holiday comes close to taking the amount of time Christmas does.  Before your gravy has cooled off from Thanksgiving dinner, stores are open for your Christmas shopping.  Radio stations start playing Christmas music 24 hours a day.  There’s no avoiding it.  It’s brutal. (3)
  3. This can be a busy holiday season for a musician.  Once Thanksgiving is over, there are Christmas concerts, Nutcrackers, Holiday Pageants, and church services all the way through Christmas Day. (3)

Total- 15 points

Although it was difficult to leave out Arbor Day (yea trees!), Groundhog Day (go Punxsutawney Phil!), and Presidents’ Day (woo-hoo, mattress sales!), I had to draw the line somewhere.

As you can see, it’s clear that Thanksgiving is the best holiday.

I hope you enjoy yours.

 

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6 comments

  1. Very funny – had me laughing out loud this early in the morning – except for the dig at off pitch choir soprano of course. Who COULD you be talking about??? Love, Mom


  2. Once again, you’re a Xenophobe if you don’t include guy Fawkes Day…


    • Oh great, now I’m worried about someone hiding out with explosives under my turkey.


  3. Just fry the turkey still frozen… That will get your attention real fast…


    • That sounds like a good way to have some Thanksgiving fireworks.


  4. I laughed out loud when I read your blog! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, yet Hanukkah ranks right up there at the top imho. I wonder why you didn’t include it in your blog? You’ve got presents (a guarantee of at least 8!), food (ahhhh….jelly doughnuts, latkes, chocolate coins….yum!), gambling (ever play the dreidel game?) and traditional music! Then, there’s the added bonus of spelling the holiday TWO different ways (“Chanukah” or “Hanukkah”). Finally, here’s the best part: Celebrating the win of the underdogs (go Maccabees!!) winning back their freedom…. Happy holidays to you and yours!!



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